Tuesday 25 February 2014

Council Crisis: Thursday's Meeting (Updated)

In the run-up to the Extraordinary Meeting of Carmarthenshire County Council on Thursday intensive preparation and lobbying of councillors is taking place. Labour councillors will be subjected to a strict party whip to vote against Plaid Cymru's motion of no confidence in Kevin Madge and his two Independent allies, Meryl Gravell and Pam Palmer. Huge pressure is also being applied on the Independents not to desert Meryl in her hour of need.

The Plaid Cymru group will call for a recorded vote so that the public can see for themselves how their councillors vote. The prospect must be giving several of them sleepless nights because all of the indications are that there is real and raw anger among the public about what has been going on at the top of our county council.

Mrs Linda Rees Jones will stand down as Monitoring Officer for the duration of the meeting. The monitoring officer serves as the guardian of the Council's Constitution and the decision-making process, and is responsible for advising the Council on the legality of its decision and providing guidance to the Councillors on the Council Constitution and its powers.

Update (10.44am)

Her place will be taken by her deputy, Robert Edgecombe. Also on hand to provide "appropriate" advice will be Mr Timothy Kerr QC who recently effectively took over as monitoring officer in Pembrokeshire's recent notorious extraordinary meeting. Mr Kerr has been advising the leadership of both councils on their response to the Wales Audit Office's ruling that they had acted unlawfully. His bill for attending the event is expected to come in at a very reasonable £6,000-£8,000.


It is understood that Mr Kerr himself may now be facing a formal complaint of misconduct for his handling of the meeting in Haverfordwest, and in particular for his part in an ambush which saw opposition members withdraw from the meeting.

For those of you who cannot get enough, S4C is due to screen an edition of Y Byd ar Bedwar at 9.30 tonight looking at the background to the scandals. Cneifiwr understands that the programme makers rounded up a motley collection of malcontents, repeat-offenders and general trouble makers for the interviews.

The meeting itself will begin at 10 a.m. in County Hall, and will be broadcast live (here). The council's webcasts have suffered quite a few technical problems recently, and it is likely that the grim public gallery will be packed for the event, with journalists, the public and what Mr James once described as "scurrilous" members of the blogging community jostling for a front row seat. Fights may break out upstairs as well, particularly between the semi-house trained representatives of the local press.

Doyen of the press pack is the BBC's beefy Aled Scourfield, and Cneifiwr's money is on him to emerge triumphant from any scrummage.

Cneifiwr will unusually be enjoying a day off, and taking along a sharpened pencil and supply of Xtra strong mints.


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be surprised if Mr Kerr did not come to the meeting or at least confined what he has to say to the bare minimum.

His performance at Pembs was bit dismal in my view and is now there for all to see at any time.

I bet he regrets getting involved in all this !!

Anonymous said...

Independents my a*se. I have blogged elsehwere - "Independents" are mostly party faithful designated Independent so that they can take seats on committees that should be politically representative. They are actually majority party sympathisers who, miraculously, appear to know by osmosis what the majority party wants and votes with it 100% of the time.

In this way it is possible to have an Executive and a so-called politically representative Overview and Scrutiny Committee (which you must have by law if you have an Executive) which is actually full of majority party voters.

So, you get control of every committee - clever, innit?

Anonymous said...

This is the second time Meryl Gravell has faced a vote of no confidence? Don't let there be a third!!!!

Jac o' the North, said...

Take three pencils. Carmarthenshire council is providing better entertainment than anything on the telly. If they had a sports channel I'd switch from Sky and BT.

Anonymous said...

Only councilors and senior members of council staff should be allowed to contribute (speak) at this meeting – and no one else – certainly not Timothy Kerr, Q.C. If certain councilors wish him to speak (and offer “advice”), then the meeting should be suspended to allow this. After all, he holds no position within the council more than any other member of the general public and any so called “advice” should have been submitted before the meeting.
For this to happen, the meeting needs a strong, unbiased and fair chairman, not given to verbal bullying certain councilors but, in my opinion and having watched the web broadcasts of previous council meetings , the present chairman fails miserably on these accounts. He needs to get his act together!

Anonymous said...

"Independent" councillors must be well aware that they hold the balance of power in the Council. In the absence of any sign of a coup within the Labour ranks, the hapless Labour members may feel that they have no option but to support Kev, no matter how dire his leadership has been, and with no regard to the well-being of the people of Carmarthenshire. You might think that they would have some regard to their future electoral prospects as well, but perhaps many have come to regard them as lost causes.

But Independents are in an entirely different position. They are, or are supposed to be independent, and are free to vote as their conscience dictates. If past performance is anything to go by, they will say little, look unhappy, but vote to preserve the status quo.

I reckon they will show as much independence as Lenny the Lemming, rushing headlong with his mates over the precipice.

Anonymous said...

Exposed Richard!!

Anonymous said...

I am sure that many Members will be thinking that this "crisis" is no such thing, that it's a bit of a kerfuffle, and it'll all blow over soon enough. So there is no reason to get all riled up about it - even if it has been a bit of a fiasco, if they keep their heads down, don't rock the boat, everything will be all right.

Don't be fooled. People are apathetic when it comes to politics, and even more so when it's local politics. But just because voters aren't flocking to County Hall with pitchforks, flaming torches, placards etc, doesn't mean that they are happy.

Some of the Council's shortcomings have had a very public airing, and the media spotlight is now on the Council. Whether it's dodgy tax arrangements, scandalous financing of selected private organisations or vicious cuts at the expense of less deserving targets, the public have had enough, and will remember who did what at election time.

Anonymous said...

Do you mean Cllr Richards is the one to watch anon 23:52?

Anonymous said...

Richard the Lionheart!